Thrashers sale/Hawks shortened season reduce business around ATL
Businesses scale back
Some are unhappy with management of Thrashers deal
A stunted professional basketball season and the loss of a pro-ice hockey team has left some Atlanta-area businesses out cold.
Bars, restaurants, and merchandise vendors around metro-Atlanta have had to adapt to survive a diminished clientele-base.
“We easily average a couple hundred sports fans a week.” said Shannon Wroe, a server at Big Tex Cantina on Ponce. “We were OK when it was just the Thrashers, but when the Hawks also weren’t playing, a big chunk of customers weren’t showing up… My hours definitely went down.”
Other businesses, such as Taco Mac, have reported that they did up to three times their usual amount of business on Thrasher game nights.
Merchandise vendors fared even worse. Thuy-Tien Pham, a Georgia Tech student who helped her brother sell Atlanta pro-sports souvenirs after games, had to stop entirely. “Besides Braves games, there were no games for a while. No games meant no fans. It wasn’t worth it.”
Atlanta appears to have echoed that sentiment, regarding the Thrashers. Atlanta is the only city to lose a pro-sports franchise to Canada, and it has happened twice. Before the Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets on May 31, 2011, the Atlanta Flames became the Calgary Flames in 1980.
The Atlanta Spirit, Hawks owners and Thrashers hawkers, have been criticized for their handling of the team.
Whether the blame lies on the ownership or the fans is unclear. Thrasher attendance consistently ranked amongst the lowest in the league, and according to the Atlanta Spirit, lost around $130 million in its last six years. 2007, the only year the Thrashers made the playoffs, they lost $20 million.
Wroe does not regret the loss of the Thrashers.
“Honestly, most of our business came from the Hawks and Braves. This is the South.”
Pham has since returned to merch-vending on weekends. “As long as we have baseball, basketball, and football, we’ll be alright. Rise up!”